Wayne Rooney has been given one last call up to represent England on an international level. His 120th appearance will take place against the United States (the nation where Rooney currently plays) and the proceeds will go to the Wayne Rooney Foundation.
Some have complained that international caps should only be given ‘on merit’ and therefore Rooney should not be given this appearance but I would argue that there is more than one form of merit.
Does Rooney’s current level of play warrant representing the team in a competitive match? Of course not. But calling up players who are not good enough for competitive matches is something that is done all the time in international friendlies. Coaches are constantly looking at the depth of their options in these sorts of games. In fact, I wouldn’t expect too many first choice players to get many minutes in this game at all, and the USMNT is unlikely to field their top XI either. This is what international friendlies are.
With that in mind, if we look at the concept of merit from the perspective of ‘what kind of sendoff does one of the greatest England internationals deserve?’ then the idea that Rooney deserves this call up is very reasonable, keeping in mind that he has the record for the most international goals for the Three Lions with 53.
It gives young players the chance to share the pitch with a legend, and tells them that if they work hard and achieve greatness then one day the FA will see that they are treated well in their twilight years too.
Jermaine Defoe got an England call up in 2017. He has 14 minutes so far this season for AFC Bournemouth and had fewer goals last season than Rooney had for Everton. I don’t think the value of an England call up is being done any harm by giving a national legend one last ride.
As Everton fans we should be proud of Wayne and glad that the Three Lions are letting him go out in style.